Keystone State Park Named Nation’s Best Destination for Fall Foliage
LIGONIER, Pa. (Sept. 15, 2023) – When it comes to brilliant fall colors, Keystone State Park is golden.
Readers have selected the Westmoreland County park as the nation’s Best Destination for Fall Foliage, USA Today’s 10 Best announced Friday as part of its Readers’ Choice Awards.
“I am extremely excited for Keystone State Park winning the competition as the nation’s best fall foliage destination,” Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We are fortunate to have some of the best locations to view fall foliage in the world, and it is wonderful to have this honor bestowed on one of our state parks. I am hopeful that this recognition will get more people out to the Laurel Highlands this fall.” Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands region has been a top-10 destination in each of the past three years. This year’s awards highlighted a specific location, and USA Today’s team of editors chose Keystone – which is popular for its 78-acre lake – as one of 20 locations selected in August. Readers were able to vote daily online through Sept. 4.
“USAToday has once again bestowed a true honor on the Laurel Highlands and now Westmoreland County,” said Ann Nemanic, executive director of GO Laurel Highlands. “With 124 state parks in the commonwealth alone, having Keystone State Park recognized on a national level is outstanding. With 1,200 acres to explore, Keystone is ideal for a day trip or family getaway. Leaf peepers will appreciate the numerous trails throughout the park, especially when fall foliage bursts into full color around Keystone Lake. A favorite spot for photographers, Keystone State Park is not to be missed at sunset.”
As home to thousands of acres of unspoiled state forests, parks, and gamelands, the Laurel Highlands is the ideal destination for an autumn getaway. The mountain ridges and river valleys provide a dramatic landscape for the diverse population of trees that offer their own signature color each fall. Eager leaf peepers look forward to the first fall hike or drive of the season and are curious to know when the leaves
will start changing. While Mother Nature is not always predictable, fall foliage begins to shine in mid-September with the brightest bursts of color ablaze in mid-October.
Paired with fall’s natural beauty, the Laurel Highlands’ charming small towns, covered bridges, and iconic attractions such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and the Flight 93 National Memorial are also must-see stops on a leaf-peeping getaway.
“I couldn’t be more honored that Keystone State Park was named the best fall foliage location by USA Today,” Westmoreland County Commissioner Sean Kertes said. “Westmoreland County has so many outdoor amenities, and Keystone State Park is just one of attractions we as a county are extremely proud of. But there is more to Westmoreland County than just one park. We have a rich and diverse array of destinations, from arts and culture to historic sites. Westmoreland County hosts a variety of events throughout the year, from festivals and fairs to concerts and sports. You can learn about area events on our community events page or visit the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. Whether you are a resident or a visitor, you will never run out of options to explore and enjoy our county.”
Keystone was the only Pennsylvania location in the Top 10 and finished ahead of Tahquamenon Falls State Park (Michigan), Hocking Hills State Park (Ohio), Ozark National Scenic Riverways (Missouri), and White Mountain National Forest (New Hampshire), which rounded out the top five.
“I think it is an honor that we were nominated, and won, the top fall foliage destination in the U.S.,” said Chloe Kalp, an environmental education specialist at Keystone State Park. “We are excited to see how this puts Keystone State Park on the map, and we are excited to see what fall brings us this year.”
The land for Keystone State Park was purchased in 1945 from the Keystone Coal and Coke Company, which built the Keystone Dam in 1909, creating the lake that now supports kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding and boats with electric motors. Anglers regularly pull catfish, panfish and muskellunge from its waters. Keystone Beach is a popular destination for swimmers from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Eight miles of hiking trails – including the two-mile Lakeside Loop, an ADA-accessible flat path around the lake – are found within the park. A wide range of plant and animal life calls Keystone home, making it a popular spot for wildlife watching. Picnic and pavilion facilities are available.
Keystone State Park features about 100 tent and trailer sites available from the first Friday in April to the third Sunday of October. The park also includes 11 modern cabins, three camping cottages and two yurts. 10Best.com provides users with original, unbiased, and experiential travel content of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world. Its staff is made up of a collection of local travel experts that specialize in the region or city they write about.
About Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands A magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands is an outdoors lover’s paradise that spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located just an hour east of Pittsburgh, the beautiful four-season destination offers spectacular natural scenery, outstanding skiing, hiking, biking and golfing opportunities, historic sites and attractions, family activities and world-class resorts. Notable
destinations within the region include four architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater®, Kentuck Knob, Mäntylä and Duncan House – as well as Nemacolin, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone, whitewater rafting in Ohiopyle State Park and much more.
Located within 200 miles of the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Washington D.C., Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands can be easily accessed from exits 67, 75, 91 and 110 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Visitors to the Laurel Highlands can find information online at GoLaurelHighlands.com. Established in 1958, GO Laurel Highlands, formerly known as Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, is the official destination marketing organization for Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.